screen time

Why Screen-Free Week May Be Exactly What We Need

From April 30 to May 6, North Americans will be experiencing life beyond their screens.

Screen-free week initially started as TV-Turnoff week in 1994 by the creators of the Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood. The founders of the program saw the benefit of a digital detox to reassess the role that screen media plays in children’s lives.

Today, the average teenager (and their parent) spends 9 hours a day in front of a screen. Tweens spend 6 hours a day and preschoolers spend as much as 4.5 hours every day looking at a screen.

So how is all this time spent engaged with digital technology effecting us? Screen time for young children is linked to speech delays and the inability to regulate emotions. An Alberta study examining how digital technology is impacting children found that students are more distracted, have a difficult time focusing and are coming to school tired. A recent study involving participants aged 19-32 showed that social media use was significantly associated with depression and multiple studies have demonstrated a link between problematic smartphone use and anxiety.  


The more we engage with screens, the harder it is to disengage with them. Without giving ourselves a break and unplugging, we are essentially just strengthening the need to be constantly plugged in.

If you have never given yourself the gift of a digital detox, let Screen-free week be the catalyst. Reduce screen time and allow yourself and your kids to be “bored”. It will spark your imagination, ignite creative ideas, promote deep thinking and strengthen your connections with each other.

Before you start, take inventory of your family’s screen time and a mindful approach to how it may be affecting you. If you feel like a week without screens is just not possible, break it down into manageable pieces. Try eliminating screens from 4-8pm every day or going the week without social media. Whatever digital detox means to you, let this be a spark to live beyond the screen and fully engage in life!

A life looking into your phone is not a life
— Michelle Obama

The Secret to Avoiding Square Eyes

Square eyes. That is what I have always told my daughter will happen to her if she watches too many shows. Little did I realize I would do it to myself.

In my family, I am the one spending the most time in front of a screen. I can easily sit down with my MacBook with the intent to respond to some email and 2 hours later, I am captivated by Twitter and a dog shaming video. How did that happen? I can feel my eyes getting shifty and yet can’t seem to pull myself away from the screen. I must be getting square eyes.

We are surrounded and immersed in digital technology. Everyday we willingly choose to be in a relationship with our devices. They make day-to-day operations simpler, ease the demands of parenting and keep our to-do lists in check. Technology connects us with the world and provides an endless stream of opportunities (and dog videos) to capture our attention.

How many times have you glanced at Instagram and found yourself down the rabbit hole an hour later? Were you half way to work when you realized your phone was still sitting beside your lunch on the counter at home? I bet you turned back for the phone, not your lunch. While technology allows us to stay connected, it can also keep us disconnected.


Whether you think you are getting square eyes or not, we all need tech breaks. The pressure of responding to the constant barrage of online notifications can leave us feeling a little deflated. So what is the secret to disconnecting and avoiding square eyes? It’s simple. Go outside.

The moment you step outside and breathe in the fresh air, you are doing your body a favor. Breathing in fresh air brings more oxygen to your cells and more clarity to your brain. Dr Miles Richardson, head of psychology at the University of Derby states that getting out into nature has been shown to significantly correlate with life satisfaction, vitality, meaningfulness, happiness, mindfulness, and lower cognitive anxiety. That sounds way better to me than a bad case of FOMO.

As I talk with friends about the constant overwhelm we feel caused by technology, work, and parenting, the common thread shared with respect to self-care is taking a tech break. Whether that means going for a 30 minute walk or a weekend retreat without WiFi, we all seen to crave those tech-free moments that seem so hard to come by in our modern everyday living.

Getting outside without a device will not only improve your mood and regenerate your vitality, it will also demonstrate to your kids that it’s okay to step away from technology. It’s okay not to respond to the pings. It’s okay to leave the house without having the ability to take a picture. Kids feel the same pressure we do when it comes to technology overload. They have just not yet developed the coping mechanisms to handle it. So take the lead and challenge yourself and your child to recharge in nature and leave the devices charging at home.

Next time you feel that technology is taking control of your life, step outside and breathe in some fresh oxygen. Go for a walk, a trip to the playground, even just fill the bird feeder or water the flowers. Nature has the amazing ability to restore our attention, our creative capacity and reconnect us with what it truly important - ourselves.

“Let’s wander where the wifi is weak” - words to live by


5 Ways to Manage Screen Time this Summer

With more time to use their devices and less time being supervised, kids will likely be taking advantage of the long days this summer to hone in on their tech skills. While I’m a supporter of technology and content creation, too much screen time can lead to hyper-emotional, non-compliant kids. An over-dose on devices can also lead to a negative impact on social development and communication skills. Here are some ways to control the screen time in your house before it takes over:

1. Set a timer. It’s easy to get busy with other parenting-type duties and is tempting to let the kids play on their devices while you get your own work completed. A good way to keep screen time in check is to set a timer. Kids can also see the time counting down and can expect when to hand over the iPad.

2. Transition into a fun activity. Once that timer has beeped, having another activity lined up can ease the transition away from tech time. A trip to the park, your child’s favorite craft or even a snack can make the switch a little smoother.

3. Save the tech for the road trip. Summer brings long car rides and plane trips. Save that movie your child really wants to see for when they are strapped in their seat and can’t move around much anyway.

4. Take it outside. There are lots of great apps to get your kids into nature. Geocaching, photography, and insect finding can inspire them to create amazing content or become neighborhood explorers. Plus, it will likely inspire them to get into the great outdoors on their own next time without the devices.

5. Sleep. Shut down those screens at least one hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted from screens inhibits our body’s production of melatonin which we need for restful, high quality sleep. And we can all benefit from a good night of zzzzz’s.

“Kids don’t remember their best day of television” - a wise parent